Welcome to the latest edition of Letter of the Lords – the weekly newsletter aimed at shining a light into the

work the party’s peers are doing in the second chamber. Why not let us know what you think? Email the newsletter onlordsmedia@libdems.org.uk. And that’s also the address to give to friends, colleagues and loved ones to sign up too. Plus don’t forget to keep up to date with the blog at libdemlords.org.uk and follow us on Twitter at@LibDemLords.

IN THE CHAMBER

As chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration’s Family Migration Committee, Baroness Hamwee was central to a major report published last month into recent changes to family immigration rules. And this week in the Lords she drew upon its findings in leading a debate on the subject. “Those affected tell better than I can the outrage, confusion, puzzlement and anguish of British citizens and taxpayers who had never for a moment expected that their country would put such obstacles in the way of them living with their family in that country,” she said. The report looked at changes to the rules that had previously required someone seeking to sponsor a non-EEA (European Economic Area) partner and any children to demonstrate the ability to maintain their family without recourse to public funds. Before last July that was equivalent to income support, about £5,500. Now the minimum income required is £18,600, described by Baroness Hamwee as “a level that is not attained by getting on for half of British workers, and there are considerable regional variations”. She told peers: “We live in an interconnected world, a term which was used in the previous debate. British citizens fall in love with people from Canada, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Chile and Australia. We want to protect our reputation, a point which is often raised in connection with student visas. We want to protect our values, care for our parents, and have a family life. “One of those values is fairness. These rules are not regarded as fair by so many of our fellow citizens. I therefore repeat the inquiry’s call for a review because of, as I have said, the outrage, confusion, puzzlement and anguish that are being felt.”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Is it right that my wife’s small printing business last year paid its full dues of £22,000 of corporation tax when Apple, with a turnover in the UK of £1bn, paid absolutely nothing?” Lord Teverson questions the tax arrangements of the technology giant. Treasury spokesman Lord Newby described them as “clearly unacceptable”.

TWEET OF THE WEEK “Received an email informing me that President Morsi's planned visit to Parliament next week has been cancelled.”Baroness Hussein-Ece (@meralhece) looks on at events in Egypt.

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamden used a debate on Syria and the Middle East to warn against intervention in the war-torn country. It was sensible to intervene only when it was sensible to intervene, he told peers, adding: “When it is not sensible to intervene, it is very stu pid to intervene indeed. For reasons I shall explain, I am afraid it is not sensible if by intervention we mean either military force taken by Britain or the West, or the provision of arms. The case is so difficult, so tragic and so potentially catastrophic for the wider peace that it behoves us to try to put forward a suggestion other than intervention which it might be possible to follow.”

Lord Greaves asked the Government, in light of recent figures on road casualties, what steps it was considering to increase the safety of cyclists on the roads. Over the past two years the number of cyclists killed on the roads has gone up from 111 to 118 a year and the number seriously injured from 2,660 to 3,222. “One of the main problems that cyclists have is their interaction with heavy vehicles,” he said. The minister, Lord Attlee, said he agreed HGVs were a “disproportionate problem”.

Lord Clement-Jones’ Private Members’ Bill, the Cultural and Community Distribution Deregulation Bill, received its Second Reading in the Lords. It would make it easier for flyers to be distributed to publicise small live music and other entertainment events. Currently many events – including amateur theatres, jazz festivals and fetes – have to buy a council licence in order to promote their event with leaflets. “Leafleting is the primary way in which grassroots events can reach a local audience, but they simply cannot afford these high fees,” said Lord Clement-Jones.

And Baroness Tyler of Enfield used a debate on preparing young people for the world of work to draw attention to a recent report stressing the importance of character and resilience. She told peers: “Character and resilience may be viewed by some as a somewhat amorphous term, and some might choose to dismiss it as fluffy or cosmetic soft skills. Fat from being fluffy, developing character and resilience is about developing the fundamental drive, tenacity and perseverance needed to make the most of opportunities and succeed in life, whatever obstacles stand in the way.”

BEST OF THE BLOG

This week Baroness Hamwee led a debate on the social and economic impact on families of recent changes to the immigration rules. On the Lib Dem Lords blog, she wrote that they had provoked “outrage, puzzlement and anguish”. More details here.

WHAT’S COMING UP MONDAY Peers consider the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at Report stage. TUESDAY Peers consider the Offender Rehabilitation Bill at Third Reading. Peers consider the Care Bill at Committee stage. WEDNESDAY Lord Addington to ask the Government what steps it is taking to make apprenticeships accessible to dyslexic people. Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank will lead a debate on arrangements for preserving Government archives and preparing official histories.

THURSDAY Lord Dykes to ask the Government when it expects to achieve all-party agreement on proposals for a Royal Charter on the supervision of ethical standards in the press. Lord Storey will debate a debate on the impact of music upon tourism. For more detailed information on what’s coming up in the Lords, click here.

‘I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night, I start spreading rumours to my dogs’ – Andy Warhol

Follow the Lib Dem Lords on Twitter @LibDemLords, contact the newsletter at lordsmedia@libdems.org.uk and see the blog at libdemlords.org.uk.

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